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Pakistan's coronavirus cases rise to 803; Sindh minister tests positive

Press Trust of India  |  Islamabad 

Pakistan said on Monday that the total number of coronavirus cases in the country rose to 803, even as the Army scrambled to put together all resources to tackle the infection which has claimed more than 15,000 lives worldwide.

At least six people have died, while six others recovered from COVID-19 so far, according to the country's National Disaster Management Authority.

Of the total 803 cases, Sindh province accounted for with 352 cases, Punjab 246, Balochistan 108, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa 32, Islamabad 15 and Gilgit-Baltistan 72 and 1 in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.

Sindh Education Minister Saeed Ghani in a video message on Monday confirmed that he had tested positive for coronavirus and was now in isolation at his home.

Ghani's positive test led to the Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah instructing all his Cabinet members to take the test.

Sindh on midnight on Sunday became the first province in Pakistan to forcefully start a 15-days lockdown with police, paramilitary rangers and even the Pakistan Army soldiers patrolling the city and implementing the lockdown.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar on Monday announced a 14-day lockdown in the province from 9 am Tuesday.

During the lockdown, grocery stores, pharmacies, fruit and vegetables shops will remain open. "It is not curfew or traditional lockdown and all essential supplies will be available," he said.

The Pakistan government has announced to deploy army in the capital to help civil administration to enforce measures to combat coronavirus.

In a special corps commanders' conference, chaired by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, the military leadership resolved to put together all resources to defeat the novel coronavirus.

The COAS reviewed the countrywide spread of COVID-19 and the Army's readiness to assist the civil administration.

The coronavirus outbreak resulted in the low-key celebrations of the annual Pakistan Day.

Pakistan Day recognises the resolution passed by the then All India Muslim League on March 23, 1940 which demanded a separate country.

The day is traditionally marked by a colourful military and cultural parade in capital Islamabad. However, all planned events were cancelled on Monday.

In separate messages, President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan urged the people to show utmost unity, discipline and passion to fight the coronavirus.

"The Pakistani nation has the capability to face any ordeal and God willing, we will stand victorious in this test," Prime Minister Khan said.

Khan on Sunday ruled out a complete nationwide lockdown, saying it will create chaos.

However, Gilgit-Baltistan also enforced lockdown on Sunday midnight.

Pakistan-occupied Kashmir also imposed a three-week lockdown.

In several cities, roads wore a deserted look as the security forces put up containers on the main roads and in lanes to block traffic.

Several arrests were reported from some towns in Sindh for violating the lockdown while at many places the security forces could be seen punishing violators by making them do exercises.

Balochistan province on Monday reported its first death. A 65-year-old patient with a history of illnesses died at the Fatima Jinnah hospital.

Pakistan has suspended all international flights for two weeks and curtailed train services.

(This story has not been edited by Business Standard staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

First Published: Mon, March 23 2020. 19:18 IST
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